In the spirit of the season of graduation, and in the spirit of the John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address, I want to share with all graduates sentiments of our next adventure: employment.

University Presidents, Job Hunters, Human Resources Departments, Chief Of Recruitments, fellow 2011 graduates:

We observe today not a victory of graduation, but a celebration of freedom - symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning - signifying debt, as well as little pocket change. For we have sworn before each classmate and the Almighty Dean the same solemn oath we prescribed many semesters ago.

Our resumes are very different now. For we hold in our mortal hands the power to understand complex issues and to annoy those who have been on the job for a lot longer than we.

Let every employer know, whether it offers us a job or ignores our resume, that we have taken every test, paid an enormous tuition, written many papers, met many foreign classmates, supported many domestic classmates, opposed essay exams, to assure the success of being gainfully employed.

This much we paid - and more.

To those old classmates whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful alum. Employed, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Unemployed, there is little we can do - for we dare not meet a student loan payment challenge.

To those employers whom we want a job from, we pledge that one form of employment is contract work. You shall not always pay us benefits. But we shall always hope to find a paycheck supporting our own rent and freedom to not return to our parents' home - and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly returned home to live with their parents ended up living in the basement or attic.

To those graduates in the basements and attics of half the country struggling to break the bonds of unemployment, we hope employers pledge their best efforts to help us help themselves take advantage of our shiny new degree. If employers cannot help the many graduates who are unemployed, employers cannot expect that they will also be customers at their businesses.

So let us begin anew - let us never forget to negotiate for our pay, or pay someone else to negotiate for our pay.

Let both sides - the employer and the unemployed - unite to heed, in all corners of our communities, the concern of the philosophy major - to "let us all dig deep thoughts about finding a job."

We may not become employed in the first 100 days. But we hope we will in the first 1,000 days, so let us begin submitting our resumes.

And so, my fellow graduates, ask not just what a job can do for you; ask what you can do for a job.

My fellow graduates of colleges and universities, ask not what employers will pay you, but what together we can do for our communities we serve.

Finally, whether you are citizens of the employed or citizens of the unemployed, with a good paycheck our hopeful reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to work in the land we love.

Unemployment is a serious concern in America and around the world. But if us graduates who are unemployed can't poke fun at ourselves for being unemployed at the time of graduation, then we are already acting as if we have a job we hate.

PAUL HEROUX of Attleboro is a 2011 graduate of Harvard's University's JFK School of Government and can be reached at

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